DIY: Indoor Stargazing

The summer months are great for spending time outdoors with it staying bright so late but that can make it difficult for those of us with early bedtimes to spot the nighttime constellations. With this activity, you can look for those constellations anytime!

There are two main ways you might want to go about this activity; there is a simple way that yields less precise images and a slightly more advanced method that can be fine-tuned to give you a more realistic view of the constellations.

Activity Age: 3 and up
Activity Time: 15 minutes
Activity Clean-Up Time: 5 minutes

Basic Materials
Flashlight
Pushpin/Thumbtack
Printed version of a night sky map (the June version of Sky Maps can be found HERE: http://www.skymaps.com/skymaps/tesmn2006.pdf)

Simple set-up additional materials
Tin foil
Tape

Advanced set-up additional materials
Light cardboard box (Something like a cracker or cereal box)
Tape
Scissors

Simple Method- Best for a viewing a small number of close constellations (This is a really fun way to give a younger child their very own constellation flashlight)
1. Tape the sky map to piece of tin foil above a pile of old magazines or newspapers the you don’t mind getting a few holes in
2. Use the pushpin to place holes in the sky map where each of the stars are in your favorite constellations
3. Remove the piece of foil, flip it, and wrap it across the lens of a flashlight. Be sure to keep the pin-pricked constellation centered on the lens.
4. Place a rubber band around the base of the foil to keep it taught and stop it from moving
5. Shine your flashlight on the wall or ceiling to view your very own indoor constellations!

More Complex Method- Best for projecting the entire sky map
1. Open up a light cardboard box and tape your night sky map inside.
2. Gently use a pushpin to place holes in the sky map where each of the stars are, making sure to punch through the layer of cardboard where the sky map is taped. (Place the cardboard above a pile of old magazines or newspapers the you don’t mind getting a few holes in.)
3. Reform the box to its original shape.
4. Cut a big hole on the opposite site of the punched holes, slightly smaller than the top of your flashlight. Add a slit towards the outside of the box from the circle you cut, this will allow the top of the flashlight to sit just inside the hole you have cut.
5. Shine your flashlight through the box onto a flat surface to view your very own indoor night sky! By adjusting the distance from the flashlight to the pinholes or the distance from your box to your flat surface you can adjust how well focused your pinpricks of light are.

We would love to see your indoor stargazing set-ups! Email your pictures to info@ccssc.org!

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